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September 21, 2012

‘Straight for Equality’ launched at P-FLAG conference

Cleveland--Parents, Family and Friends Cleveland chapter hosted their national organization’s Great Lakes Regional Conference on September 7 to 9, bringing LGBT people, their families and friends from a number of states together to work on advancing the rights of all people.

Councilor Joe Cimperman of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Councilor Dale Miller addressed the delegates, telling them the importance of putting forward their personal stories as a way of getting politicians on board for supporting anti-discrimination and other legislation, like domestic partner benefits.

The conference also saw the launch of PFLAG’s new Straight for Equality in Faith Communities initiative, which was introduced by Jean-Marie Navetta, the national organization’s director of equality and diversity partnerships. The goal of the project is to “initiate conversation between people of faith and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals to achieve mutual goals of kindness and respect.”

Cleveland is a good city for the initiative, since the Episcopal Trinity Cathedral hosts a great deal of LGBT and allied programming, and is home to the headquarters of the United Church of Christ, one of the most pro-gay mainstream Protestant denominations.

Attendees at the regional conference were also addressed by Rob Smitherman, a spokesperson with the Gay Games, which will be hosted in Cleveland and Akron in 2014. He talked about the anticipated economic boost the Gay Games will bring to Northeast Ohio, and urged PFLAG and other community organizations to become involved in the games.

It will be the first time the Gay Games have been hosted by a second-tier city in terms of population, having previously been held in cities like Amsterdam, Sydney, Chicago, San Francisco and New York.

The PFLAG Great Lakes Regional Conference brought delegates from Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis and all over Ohio, as well as participants from Washington, D.C.

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